Eric Platt, Base Leader and geologist at Admiralty Bay, King George Island, suffered a heart attack whilst in the field with Jack Reid, 9 November 1948. They were approaching a pass in the mountains and although Jack Reid tried to carry him back to base he found it impossible and returned to base to find a search party already heading out to find them. By the time they had climbed back to the pass Eric had died. "Greatly distressed, they carried him back and he was buried near the base," recalls Sir Vivian Fuchs who was in the George VI Sound at the time. A memorial cross was erected.
This incident occurred only a few days before Sir Vivian Fuchs was to hear of the catastrophic fire at Hope Bay which led to the loss of Oliver Burd and Michael Green
Robert Stephenson, co-ordinator of The Antarctic Circle has provided an extract from the Halifax Courier of 14 April 1950.
"Soyland man who died in the Antarctic
"A richly coloured stained glass window, which Mr. and Mrs. John Platt, Prospect House, Soyland, have provided at St. Mary's Church, Cotton Stones, in memory of their son, Mr. Eric Platt. B.Sc., who died in the Antarctic, is to be dedicated at a special service on Sunday afternoon. The dedication will be performed by the Rev. G. L. Barber, former Vicar, and the present Vicar, Rev. W. I. G. Moffatt. will conduct the service.
"Mr. Eric Platt, a former prefect at Sowerby Bridge Grammar School, died in 1948 whilst working in the Antarctic as a member of the Falkland Islands Dependencies survey team. He had been associated with St. Mary's Church and school, was a member of the choir, and at one time the occasional organist. He had also been an altar server.
"Knight in armour
"The main colour schemes of the window are steel blue, a deeper blue, red and gold. There is the life-size figure of a knight in armour, with sword raised in his right hand and holding a shield in his left hand. On the shield is a lion rampant. At the top is a crown and lamp, also two angels. At the side of the knight is a chalice, and the design also includes a knight's helmet, a lion, a dove and other features.
In bold letters underneath the figure, is the word, "Courage." The inscription at the foot reads: "In proud memory of Eric Platt B.Sc., geologist who died on duty at Admiralty Bay, the Antarctic, 10th of November, 1948, aged 22." [see below for actual inscription]
"The window is the work of George Maile and Sons. Ltd., London. Mr. Kenneth Pawson, of Triangle, another Sowerby Bridge Grammar School old boy, who has been in the Antarctic as a member of the expedition, is now on his way home but cannot be back in time to take part in Sunday's Service."
Alan Coley, who wintered at Hope Bay in 1952 and 1953, has written to say that Eric was head boy at Sowerby Bridge Grammar School, when he was in the 5th form. Ian says he was attracted to service with Falkland Islands Dependencies Survey, FIDS, by hearing Ken Pawson come back to the school to give an illustrated talk on his experiences." Ken Pawson wintered at Admiralty Bay in 1949 and was on his way home when the service of dedication took place at St Mary's. Ken who apparently emigrated to Canada wrote a book about his experiences entitled Antarctica: "----to a lonely land I know." Ken is also a poet having won the prestigious dog writers of America award in the poetry category.
Alan Coley relates, "Eric was an only child and his mother I think was Head Teacher of a local primary school. Eric studied Geology at the Victoria University Manchester and I followed him there in 1947. He caught in a blizzard while out Geologising at Admiralty Bay."
In response to an article appearing in the Daily Mail, 29 January 2011, Cyril Alderson, phoned to say that Eric had a brother an elder brother Brian. Cyril recalled that he used to travel on the bus to school at Sowerby Bridge Grammar School every day. He added that Prospect House is in the tiny hamlet of Lighthazels and that his father was a baker,
In response to an article in the Halifax Courier at the beginning of May 2011 Kath Hoare wrote to say that she had seen the article "about my uncle’s brother. My mother, Olive Browes, knew the family quite well as Edward, Eric’s brother, married her sister, Eileen Oscroft. It seems that there were three brothers and she doesn’t think any of them had children.
"My Uncle Ned divorced Eileen and unfortunately died (it must be over 20 years ago) – the marriage was childless. Brian married Margaret and they emigrated to Australia – as far as my mum is aware, that marriage was also childless. My mum was quite upset that the window in Cottonstones Church had been harder to see when the church had changed the interior use so is very pleased to read of the plans to honour the memory of the dedicated and young explorers in London."
The photographs below were taken by the Robert Stephenson on a visit to St Mary's Church in May 2001. They show the blue knight, the inscription and the church. It is a pity if this glorious window is now partialy obscured.